Product Service Experience Lifestyle
Each year, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) presents three terminal degree exhibitions; Two in the spring, for the Bachelor’s and Master’s graduates respectively, and a smaller one for the Bachelor’s graduates during the fall semester. These exhibitions were always massive, and overwhelmingly eclectic — the fall Bachelor’s show in particular, which featured around 300 artists. Each student would be allotted a 6-8foot area in which they attempted to summarize their academic career and stand out amongst the throng. On opening night, they would hover, often rather awkwardly, in close proximity to their work, ready to discuss it with interested gallery goers, and possibly, to make a sale. It was standard practice for each participant to furnish their territory with a little stand upon which to put their business cards or promotional fliers.
Over the course of my four years at SAIC, I attended the opening night of many of these shows, knowing that in the future, I myself would be participating in such a show. I was never able to remember much about the artwork, but I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to go around and collect the coolest business cards on display. When It finally came time for my own BFA show, I decided to focus on this self-promotional aspect, and confront the tension between the practices of art-making and net-working head on.
I designed and printed a limited edition of 1000 individually numbered business cards that were simultaneously the artwork, and the wall label for the installation. I cut these cards out by hand during the opening, and gave them out to visitors in exchange for their information which I collected on a specially designed form. In the weeks before the show, I had ordered a self-promotional flier which doubled as a press release which I distributed around the city to advertise my exhibition within an exhibition. During the opening, I also had one of my associates stand by the entrance in business attire, and hand out my flier to each visitor and direct traffic to my location. At one point my project was hijacked by a particularly indignant peer who began crossing out my own information and writing his own. After letting this develop for a while, I had to have my security personnel remove him. There was a bit of a theatrical tussle which my video team caught on video.